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Launching the Legal Food Hub

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Information Technology & Media Law

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Clinics Win Third Nationwide Injunction

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Public Interest Law

Yale Law School has a strong tradition of service in the public interest. Most YLS students perform public service activities during their time here.

Corporate & Commercial Law

The Law School offers a strong curriculum in corporate and commercial law as well as joint and doctoral degree programs

Criminal Justice

Yale Law School offers a rich academic experience studying criminal law through many different lenses.

Yale Law School Today

Monday, March 19, 2018

Professor Parrillo Testifies Before Congress on Regulatory Process

Professor Nicholas Parrillo ’04 testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on March 14, 2018.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Maryana Iskander ’03

Friday, March 16, 2018

Human Rights Are Not Enough: We must also embrace the fight against economic inequality.—A Commentary by Samuel Moyn

Samuel Moyn is a Professor of Law at Yale Law School and a Professor of History at Yale University.

Monday, March 05, 2018

Yale Team Places First in Jessup Moot Court Regional Competition

Wednesday, March 07, 2018

Veterans Groups Sue VA for Data on Bias, Sexism

Monday, March 19, 2018

Yale Law School Clinics Help Launch Legal Food Hub

Monday, March 19, 2018

Professor Parrillo Testifies Before Congress on Regulatory Process

Monday, March 12, 2018

CED Clinic Helps Broker Important New Haven Lease

Monday, March 12, 2018

Professor Robert Gibbons to Talk on Relational Contracts April 9

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Veterans Groups Sue VA for Data on Bias, Sexism

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Lowenstein Report on Myanmar Genocide Cited by New York Times

Race, Poverty, and Capital Punishment

Human Rights Workshop: Javier Corrales, "The Expansion of – and Backlash Against – LGBT Rights in the Americas"

Challenges in Trans Health: Legal Framings, Advocacy, and Barriers to Care

Sterling Law Building Room 129

YLJ Presents: First Mondays

Workshop on the UN Draft Principles Governing the Administration of Justice Through Military Tribunals

A Critical Moment for Critical Race Theory: The 2018 YLS CRT Conference

Yale Law School, 127 Wall Street, New Haven, CT 06511

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Ai-jen Poo: Care and the Future of Work

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

The Justice Collaboratory: Safeguarding Against Public Safety

Monday, February 26, 2018

Maryana Iskander ’03

Monday, February 26, 2018

Elizabeth Hinton: Second Chances: Redemption and Reentry after Prison

Monday, February 26, 2018

Drug Prices in the Spotlight

Friday, February 16, 2018

The Policy, Politics & Law of Cancer: Siddhartha Mukherjee keynote

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Exclusive: Democrats plan crackdown on booming stock buybacks

Sam Harris Professor of Corporate Law, Corporate Finance, and Securities Law Jonathan Macey ’82 is quoted in a story about a bill introduced by Democrats that would prohibit companies from repurchasing shares on the open market.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

New Jersey could fund gun violence research at Rutgers—once it clears the academic freedom hurdles

Sterling Professor of Law Robert C. Post ’77 is quoted in an article about proposed legislation that would give Rutgers University $400,000 for a firearms violence study.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

To Move Paris Accord Forward, Bring Cities and Companies On Board—A Commentary by Daniel C. Esty ’86 and Peter Boyd

Yale Environment 360

Daniel C. Esty ’86 is the Hillhouse Professor of Environmental Law and Policy at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies and Clinical Professor of Environmental Law & Policy at Yale Law School; Peter Boyd is an executive fellow at the Yale Center for Business and the Environment.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Hype for the Best

The New Republic

Professor of Law Samuel Moyn has a review of Steven Pinker’s new book Enlightenment Now.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Human Rights Are Not Enough: We must also embrace the fight against economic inequality.—A Commentary by Samuel Moyn

Samuel Moyn is a Professor of Law at Yale Law School and a Professor of History at Yale University.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Encouraging Technological Innovation in Environmental and Energy Law

An article in the Washington University Law Journal by Associate Professor of Law Zachary Liscow ’15 and Quentin Karpilow ’18 is reviewed.

“ You can make a difference… The history of the last 40 years happened because people like you entered the fray and chipped away at problems that they were told were politically impossible to fix.”

Honorary Doctor of Laws, 2014 Commencement Address

Unusual Law School Personal Statements: What Works and What Doesn’t

Law school applications tend not to vary too much from person to person. But former admissions dean Anne Richard has seen her fair share of standouts — some great and some terrible.

Year after year, as applicants begin work on their law school applications, they struggle to try to make themselves stand out among thousands of other qualified applicants.

What can prospective students do to illustrate that they are special and smarter than the competition? What will convince admissions committees that they are the ones who should be offered the coveted seats in the entering class?

In addition to putting together a tight, concise, and attractive résumé, and paying careful attention to each application question so that your answers are responsive and complete, you have the opportunity to show what makes you unique — or “special” — in your personal statement.

This essay is the vehicle through which you may shed light upon yourself as a person, over and above what is reflected in your résumé and academic record, both of which probably look very similar to many others.

What You Should Do (Generally)

Your statement should have a theme, tell a story, and leave your readers feeling that you are an interesting, intelligent, and insightful person. It should tell admissions officers that you know where you have been and where you are heading; that you have the ability, intellect, and maturity to succeed in the study of law; and that you will add something positive to their law school communities and to the legal profession.

You want to grab the attention of committee members in your first sentence; you want to keep their attention, both with the content of your story and clear, skillful writing. And when they finish reading your statement, you want them to want to have a conversation with you.

The best personal statement shares insights about you, based upon your experiences and self-reflection. It builds from and enhances the rest of your application package.

Essays That Worked

One personal statement I particularly enjoyed was a story about how the applicant loved to bake. She had developed and mastered certain cake recipes through trial and error — and persistence. She had started her own bakery and grown it into a successful business.

She used this story as a case study, a way of exemplifying the precision with which she approaches her work. The essay showed that she is attentive to detail and always strives for perfection while accepting that some failures along the way are inevitable. She concluded the piece by explaining how her experiences with the baking business — and the skills and strengths she had developed through it — would help her excel in legal studies. Her story was well-written, interesting, provided some nice imagery, and was different from many others.

The Missionary

Another very strong statement I read was from a young man discussing his service during a faith-based mission in South America. He recounted the trials and tribulations that accompanied living in a foreign country where he felt unwelcome. He went on to describe how — eventually — he was able to win over people in the community.

This applicant used specific examples of interactions in which both he and others opened their minds and hearts to learn more about each other. He explained how his notions of tolerance and acceptance had changed, how his spirituality and character grew during his mission, and how, during his time in South America, he had come to realize that he wanted to devote his professional life to serving others through a career in the law. His commitment was genuine, and that came across immediately.

What You Shouldn’t Do (Generally)

What you should not do is grab attention in a negative way. Some of the most memorable statements I read during my many years as an admissions dean did just that, and demonstrated extremely poor judgment on the part of applicants in the process. These essays were game changers for applicants who otherwise would have been admitted.

Stories That Didn’t Work

The Track Runner

One example came from a young woman who discussed traveling with her college track team and going to a male strip club. In excruciatingly graphic detail, she described the behavior of her friends and the anatomies of the male dancers. The whole admissions committee wondered the same thing: What was she thinking?

The Arrogant Applicant

Another example came from a young man who discussed how unique he was because he had excelled in his college studies and was much more intelligent than any other person who was applying to law school. He used complex sentences and multisyllabic words very excessively. He concluded his statement by letting the admissions committee know that he fully expected to be offered admission to all of the top-tier law schools, and that he would only consider attending this particular institution if he were offered a full-tuition scholarship — a housing stipend would be nice as well. Arrogance has no place in personal statements.

The Divorce Diarist

And do not be “too personal.” Discussing details of your parents’ ugly divorce is, in most cases, inappropriate for an audience of strangers. Admissions committees do not need to know about your family members’ extramarital affairs or their ugly battles over money.

A better approach for someone in this situation would have been to discuss the lack of attention she received from her parents while they were going through their divorce. This applicant might then have discussed the ways that this challenging family situation affected her growth and development, and her eventual maturation into an independent adult.

The Obit Author, and Other Odds and Ends

Other approaches to avoid are writing your own obituary — “Applicant X died on January 1, 2076, after serving as Attorney General, as well as Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court and President of the United States, over the course of his career.” Another bad idea is to present your personal statement as a legal pleading: “Here comes before the court applicant X and moves her admission to law school Y and, in support hereof, states the following….”

Further suggestions: Do not write a poem for your personal statement, and do not write your essay in the third person. Trying to show you are different because you are outrageous or ridiculous is not a convincing approach if you want to be taken seriously as an applicant.

What does work best when it comes to writing your personal statement is being yourself, exposing your good qualities, strengths, character, and passions. Law schools want to build classes of talented, interesting, and likable individuals. Show admissions committees you are one of these people in a well-written and thoughtful essay; and communicate to them that you are a serious candidate who has the maturity, ability, and drive to excel in law school and in the practice of law.

Exploring your law school options? Then try out the free and customizable law school search tool on Noodle.

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250 Words on Yale’s 250-Word Essay

There is so much advice floating around the internet about how to write Yale Law School’s infamous 250-word behemoth. It should be intellectual! No, it should be funny! Professional! Personal! Creative! Quirky! But not too quirky!

The problem with this advice is that it’s all correct. And it’s all wrong. The challenge is figuring out which advice applies to you . (For a few universal 250 “don’ts” see this blog post by YLS Associate Dean for Admissions and Financial Aid Asha Rangappa.)

Navigating this essay can be tricky, but here is the key: it is just another essay. The only difference is that it’s shorter. (How short is 250 words? This blog post should give you an idea.) There is no need to panic. All of the regular advice about law school essays still applies. Tell a memorable story. Demonstrate your ability to reflect meaningfully about a topic or experience. Write clearly and have no errors.

The topic itself is not crucial—great 250s can be written about violins, scuba diving, or foreign policy. Identify an issue, experience, or belief that is important to you and is not yet explored in your application. Pick a topic that showcases a new aspect of your personality, background, or intellectual interests and that you can write about compellingly.

People often ask if you can use a shorted version of one of your essays for another school. Definitely. But be extra careful that the shorter essay stands on its own and flows beautifully.

Appendix C: Yale 250s

Published November 2009

Everyone who applies to Yale Law School must write, in addition to a personal statement, what is affectionately known as the Yale 250. This is a completely open-ended short essay (250 words, obviously) on any topic of the applicant’s choice. It sounds easy. It can become terrifying. If you decide to apply to Yale, have fun with it, but do treat this sucker to your best writing treatment. With this requirement, the committee wants to see that you are an excellent writer. Try to get some sort of powerful imagery or clever literary device in your Yale 250. Don’t be too experimental or abstract unless you actually have won a writing award. Simple clarity with some sort of profound thrust is the best target to aim for here. Witty humor is also great, if you can pull it off. Below is a collection of six very good examples of Yale 250s, in no particular order of success. The first essay includes some comments about why it succeeds, but the other short essays are presented on their own, to be enjoyed, or savored, or laughed at, or learned from.

I leaned forward. The old woman beside me seemed entranced. We were at the Los Angeles Opera for George Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess and had just heard “Summertime.”

Porgy and Bess is a distinctly American opera—the story of an African-American working-class couple, set to American music idioms synthesized with European orchestral techniques. Its memorable arias and duets have escaped the confines of the opera house and entered the realm of popular music as irresistible tunes—often in hybrid form—that endear themselves to a public indifferent to classical music.

I expected the virtually all-black cast because of Gershwin’s daring stipulation to hire only black principals. But given the paucity of non-white operagoers, I did not envision an audience that would mirror America’s diversity. I surveyed the sea of black, brown, yellow, and white faces—many likely attending their first opera—and felt hopeful and proud.

The de facto segregation plaguing America softened that evening. Unlike many movies and plays depicting the African-American experience, Porgy and Bess drew a multiethnic crowd. America’s finest black opera singers attained critical visibility in a domain that rarely receives them. Perhaps the soprano singing “I Loves You, Porgy” inspired the young black woman mouthing its words to someday perform them. Perhaps the haunting beauty of “Summertime” reminded the white woman beside me of the first time she heard the music—and first saw her place in our kaleidoscope of colors. I know that I, for the first time, felt I belonged at the opera.

Commentary 1: Porgy and Bess

This Yale 250 beautifully puts the reader in the shoes of an African American attending Gershwin’s opera Porgy and Bess. The sensory details are lush, and one could almost hear the singing: “Your daddy’s rich, and your mamma’s good looking, so hush little baby, don’t you cry.” This is a narrative about finding oneself in artistic representations of—sometimes painful—history, and sharing that experience with others. We learn that the author has always loved the opera art form, but now she finds another side of her kaleidoscopic self there—she shares the opera not only as an orchestral and vocal music lover, but also as a black woman. This essay releases a profound, encapsulated moment of awakening about art, life, compassion, and openness for others to share.

He sat close on my right but seemed unaware of my presence. Etudes, sonatas, and suites ran together, each piece unimportant when compared to the sound of him playing. And this wooden box—for months my solitary obsession—was finished.

It was my first cello—the first instrument I made but could not play.

Building cellos is hard. Violins can be difficult, but are never so brutish and physical as the excavation of a cello. Carving a violin is fastidious and constricting. The stature of a cello, however, makes even the most delicate task feel expansive. Simple size yields a human presence: the work, which feels like collaboration, must be done on the cello’s terms.

But the change I felt confronting this cello as a violinist overwhelmed differences in construction.

The violins I had built and played for years were a collective project of inquiry—an introspective journey toward an elusive sonic ideal. Continual adaptation made them an expression of my playing, which had become so rooted in these fiddles that the once distinct acts of making and playing were inseparable.

This cellist discovered sounds in my work I could not predict or explore. By ending my conceit of complete understanding and vertical integration, he helped me appreciate my cello as a singular work rather than dismiss it, as I would a violin, as an inadequate manifestation of an ideal. He reminded me that all my instruments are tools for musicians; it is what they make with them that matters.

I have an abnormally large head. It has been that way since birth – just ask my mother. In home videos, I can be seen futilely trying to balance my head on my neck, only to have it tip forward or backward. When I was nine, it got stuck under the bed while I was trying to retrieve a Lego. My parents told me I would eventually grow into it, but I am still waiting.

Though balance is no longer an issue, other problems have arisen. Whenever I do something that requires entry into a small space, I have to mentally check its size against the dimensions of my head. Putting on shirts stretches their collars, while removing them requires body contortions that would put a “sixteen”-year-old Olympic gymnast to shame. I steer clear of sunglasses – put a pair on a watermelon and you will see why. The same goes for hats. “One size fits all” excludes “gigantic.” In high school, I was forced to either remove padding from my football helmet or get one custom made. And, as if to drive the point home, I was given nicknames such as “Mr. Potato Head,” “Bobblehead,” and the beautifully blunt “Bighead.”

But alas, my head is a part of who I am. It helps to make me unique and stand head and shoulders – mostly head – above the crowd. While I have learned to embrace it, I know that it may be impossible for others to do the same.

4. The Buildings of Stories

Cross disciplinary methods of research are vital to promoting intellectual curiosity and

developing new and creative techniques for addressing familiar problems. Interdisciplinary studies contributed to my double major in English and architectural theory. While completing my undergraduate degrees, I sought connections between the two fields, examining the sense of place and fictional architecture created by authors such as Margaret Atwood and William Faulkner, who used interactions with architecture to reveal characters’ understandings of the world. By bringing broad human themes down to the basic level of the spaces characters inhabit, these authors grounded their epic messages in the everyday and presented stories that were both grandly heroic and fundamentally relevant. Throughout my research, I applied architectural theory to literature and combined my knowledge of architectural symbolism with fictional

descriptions of place, thus adding another layer of meaning to the worlds created by authors. This merging of an interdisciplinary approach with traditional theoretical devices helped me move beyond typical literary analysis.

The value of interdisciplinary studies also extends to the law, which requires sharp perception, insightful analysis, and inspired synthesis: trademarks of admirable academic pursuits. Legal scholars illuminate areas such as medicine, gender issues, and the arts by examining those disciplines through the lens of the law. Because legal reasoning informs many of society’s most pressing concerns, legal scholars include the brightest and most discerning intellectuals in our society. By combining my interdisciplinary background with an education from Yale Law School, I hope that I might join those esteemed scholars.

“This is Flan. It’s a pastry from Peru. My family eats it all the time,” I told my fourth grade elementary school class.

At age nine, I treated my ethnic heritages—I’m the son of a Hispanic mother and an Arab father—as objects on a shelf, to be taken down or put back when needed.

“I’m proud to be a descendant of the Incas, and to also call the cradle of civilization—the Middle East—home,” I told my friend’s Indian father, who, in view of my dark skin color and thick, black hair, was convinced I was also Indian.

At age sixteen, my background, it seemed to me, would only sit well with others if treated as thought-provoking intellectual fodder – so I spent my time talking about history, religion, and politics.

“I grew up watching Spanish soap operas with my grandmother, but also attending Muslim Sunday School. I feel blessed to come from such a rare background,” I explained to a houseguest over dinner.

At age twenty-three, my non-conformist passions run wild, and I seek to differentiate myself in whatever way possible. The embrace of my background is a means to that end, rather than an end in itself.

“My parents were more similar than they were different. They also shared values—hard work, honesty, humility, and compassion,” I told my grandchildren while looking at photos of my parents.

At age sixty-five, I view my parents as, above all, human beings. Fundamentally, we’re all just people. No?

The sticky sweet splatter of saliva hit my face and I smiled – in part because my mouth and eyes were spared, but mostly because spitting was huge for Eddie. We were making progress.

Feeling the buckle of my shoe digging into his writhing calf, I shifted my weight. I freed a hand, pinning his head to the floor, discouraging his unsavory method of communication. The carpet absorbed his remaining projectiles, adding to the distinctive smell of group home – stifled and stale, boredom blended with frustration, sweat, and despair, all marinated in Pine Sol.

Eventually his anger softened. My grip loosened as his rage drained. Finally headed off to bed, he smiled slightly. In that moment I saw the original Eddie – not yet a victim turned predator.

Previously I knew only Eddie’s fun and feisty image. Unable to identify the mint extract beneath the chocolate in his cupcake, he accused me of poisoning him. Outraged by my suggestion to “do over” a disputed basketball play, Eddie convinced me that indecision was the only wrong call.

Later I saw Eddie, future felon. Squirming across from a mother who feared him and the little sister he violated, Eddie was terrified by what he had done. Shamed and ashamed, he was so alone.

In an environment where hugs were no longer appropriate and bedtime stories were not feasible, physical restraints, however uncomfortable, were the only way to be touched at all. Only after leaving [Group Home] did I realize I had been touched too.

Advice on Putting Together Your Application

Students commonly want to know what part of the college application “carries the most weight.” The truth is, there are many parts to your application, and together they help us discover and appreciate your particular mix of qualities. Academic criteria are important to Yale’s selective admissions process, but we look at far more than test scores and grades.

Every applicant brings something unique to the admissions committee table. Perhaps one application stands out because of sparkling recommendations, while another presents outstanding extracurricular talent; maybe your personality shines through a powerful written voice, or maybe your keen mathematical mind packs more punch. Our goal is to assemble a diverse, well-rounded student body, and that means admitting exceptional individuals of all types. You may find this answer unsatisfying, but we assure you that it is true: the part of the application that carries the most weight is different from applicant to applicant.

This section of our website aims to help you submit the very best application possible. We asked admissions officers to weigh in with their own thoughts on each topic and we have compiled their responses below. We know that the application process can be confusing, daunting, even overwhelming, and we hope this page proves helpful as you compile your applications, not only to Yale but to every school on your list.

When you write your essays and short answer responses, write about something that matters to you. Use your own voice. Do not worry about making a special effort to include impressive vocabulary words or overly complex sentences. If you sound like yourself and discuss something you care about, your essay will be more effective.

We know that no one can fit an entire life story into a few short pieces of writing, and we don’t expect you to try. Pick topics that will give us an idea of who you are. It doesn’t matter which topics you choose, as long as they are meaningful to you. We have read wonderful essays on common topics and weak essays on highly unusual ones. Your perspective – the lens through which you view your topic – is far more important than the specific topic itself. In the past, students have written about family situations, ethnicity or culture, school or community events to which they have had strong reactions, people who have influenced them, significant experiences, intellectual interests, personal aspirations, or – more generally – topics that spring from the life of the imagination.

Finally: proofread, proofread, proofread! Share your essays with at least one or two people who know you well – such as a parent, teacher, counselor, or friend – and ask for feedback. Remember that you ultimately have control over your essays, and your essays should retain your own voice, but others may be able to catch mistakes that you missed and help suggest areas to cut if you are over the word limit.

Activities

Your record of activities outside the classroom should demonstrate a number of things:

  1. You engage your community beyond the classroom. Yale is home to hundreds student organizations, and we want to admit students who will take advantage of these resources and contribute to Yale’s vibrant extracurricular community.
  2. You take leadership positions when they are available, and you invest your energies into the activities you choose. You do not need to be president of a national organization to impress the admissions committee. But, the committee would like to see that you have spent time pursuing meaningful opportunities and that you have had a positive impact on people around you.
  3. You demonstrate a deep commitment to and genuine appreciation for what you spend your time doing. The joy you take in the pursuits that really matter to you – rather than a resume padded with a long list of activities – will strengthen your candidacy.

Interviews

Interviews are another way to help your application stand out. An interview is not required, but if you are offered the opportunity to interview, we strongly encourage you to take it. Yale’s policies regarding interviews can be found on the interviews page.

Although the interviewer will get the ball rolling with questions, come prepared to be an engaged conversationalist. Rather than answering a question with a one-word, direct answer, approach each question as an opportunity to elaborate on various aspects of who you are. Share whatever additional information you feel the admissions committee should consider in order to fully appreciate your ideas, intellectual curiosity, character, and values. Interviewers can also learn about candidates from the interesting, thoughtful questions they bring to the table.

Recommendations

Recommendations tell us a great deal about the way you think and learn, how you contribute to your school community, and what you add to a classroom dynamic. The best recommendations are not always from the teachers in whose class you earned the highest grades, but rather from those teachers who know you best and can discuss the substance of your intellect and character. We are as interested in your intellectual curiosity and resilience as in your innate ability and work ethic. A string of generic superlatives is not as useful as a specific, thoughtful discussion of your strengths.

All applicants for first-year admission should request two letters of recommendation from teachers who have taught the student in core academic subjects: usually Math, English, Foreign Language, Social Studies, or Science. Teachers who have taught you in your junior and/or senior years often write the most insightful letters. These teachers will best speak to your recent progress, your preparation for rigorous collegiate coursework, and your potential contributions beyond the classroom.

Supplementary Materials

Supplementary materials can provide broader context to some parts of your application, but they can just as often be superfluous and distracting. For example, a letter from someone who supervised your extracurricular research project may answer important questions about the work you’ve done. But a third recommendation that raves about you, just as your other letters do, will not necessarily enhance your application. In fact, it may dilute the effect of the two required recommendations. For more information visit our page on supplementary materials.

Transcript and Testing

Your transcript is a significant part of your application. We look at your overall record, from freshman through senior years. We always remain mindful of context: what courses are available at your school? Did you take a rigorous curriculum given these course offerings? Are there patterns to your transcript that reflect on your academic potential? We rely on school profiles and guidance counselors to give us an understanding of your school and the ways in which you have been academically engaged.

We also consider your standardized test scores. Think of testing as just another part of the application. Only retake a test if you feel you will significantly improve your scores. If your testing is in the right ballpark, then it probably will not be the deciding factor for your candidacy. In other words, don’t worry about trying to get an extra few points. Instead, spend your time on things that will help you grow as a person: school work, extracurricular opportunities, time with friends — the things that will give you a stronger sense of yourself and, as a result, make you a stronger college applicant.

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